First, we had the 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran. Then, even as American prisoners were being released by Iran, our new BFF tried to hold the mother and wife of one of the released prisoners. This, of course, was closely followed by three Americans going missing in Iraq, an incident that some now are tying to militant groups linked to — anyone want to guess? — yep, Iran.
Meanwhile, our own President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have proudly boasted of our newly-strengthened relationship with Iran. They’ve lifted sanctions, freeing $150B, while adding another $1.7B to the pot in the prisoner exchange.
So is it any surprise that another U.S. citizen has now been detained unlawfully by an enemy state? But this time, it’s North Korea.
Via Fox News:
North Korea said Friday that it had arrested a University of Virginia student for allegedly committing “anti-state” acts orchestrated by the U.S. government.
In language that mirrors past North Korean claims of outside conspiracies, state media claimed Otto Frederick Warmbier entered the North as a tourist with a plot to undermine unity among the North Koreans with “the tacit connivance of the U.S. government and under its manipulation.”
The report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Warmbier was “arrested while perpetrating a hostile act,” but didn’t say when he was detained or explain the nature of the act.
The University of Virginia’s website listed Warmbier as an undergraduate commerce student. A LinkedIn page under Warmbier’s name indicated that he was originally from Ohio and a third-year student at the university.
He has also visited Cuba, Ireland and Israel, according to his Facebook page, Reuters reports.
An official at the U.S. embassy in the South Korean capital Seoul told Reuters it was aware of the reported arrest, but had no further comment.
A spokesman for China-based Young Pioneer Tours, which specializes in travel to North Korea, told Reuters that Warmbier had been detained on Jan. 2, while on one of the company’s tours.
The announcement came as Washington, Seoul and others are pushing hard to slap North Korea with tougher sanctions for its recent nuclear test. In the past, North Korea often announced the arrests of foreign detainees in times of tension with the outside world in an apparent attempt to wrest concessions or diplomatic maneuvering room.
North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending “spies” to overthrow its government to enable the U.S.-backed South Korean government to control the entire Korean Peninsula. Some foreigners previously arrested have read statements of guilt that they later said were coerced.
A few thousand Westerners are thought to visit North Korea each year, and Pyongyang is pushing for more tourists as a way to help its dismal economy. The U.S. State Department has warned against travel to the North, however, and visitors, especially those from America, who break the country’s sometimes murky rules risk detention, arrest and possible jail sentences, although most have eventually been released.
North Korea has previously released or deported U.S. detainees after high-profile Americans visited the country. In late 2014, for instance, North Korea released two Americans after a secret mission to the North by James Clapper, the top U.S. intelligence official. Critics say such trips have provided diplomatic credibility to the North.
The United States and North Korea are in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.
Putting aside the wisdom of any American citizen traveling to North Korea or Iran, for that matter, one can’t help but wonder how much our own government’s behavior has contributed to this latest action.
While this type of behavior from North Korea isn’t exactly new, one can’t help but wonder if the regime is freshly emboldened and inspired by the sweet deal Iran wrested from our government. It seems that not only are there no penalties for messing with Americans or violating the terms of agreements, such misbehavior is actually richly rewarded by the likes of President Obama and John Kerry.
Like Jan from “The Brady Bunch,” who complained older sister Marcia was getting all the attention — “Marcia Marcia Marcia!” — it seems Lil’ Kim Jong-un is tired of hearing, “Iran Iran Iran!” He wants a little of that global attention and cash thrown his way, perhaps.
A dangerous world is getting more dangerous, thanks to the feckless “leadership” of the United States.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]